As the notoriously hard to please members of your vacation crew, it can get overwhelming trying to find activities the whole family can enjoy when you have teenagers in tow. Here, we’ve selected seven of the quirkiest, most eye-catching, and interactive museums that are perfect for the young adults in your life.
Museum of Ice Cream, San Francisco
While this popup exhibit doesn’t quite fit the typical definition of a museum, it’s a visual explosion of crazy, interactive ice cream-themed attractions that will definitely catch your teen’s attention. Swing on an ice cream sandwich-shaped swing, dive into a pool of sprinkles and try one (or all) of the available ice cream samples on hand. Wrap up the visit with plenty of prime Instagram photo-ops (think giant gummy bears and melting popsicles sticking out of the walls) that your kids will be bragging about for weeks to come.
Aquaworld, Underwater Museum of Art, Cancun
Art and conservation converge in these crystal clear waters off the shores of Cancun. Hop on a glass-bottom boat or scuba dive down to the museum for a close-up of hauntingly beautiful life-size sculptures hidden beneath the waves. The roughly 500 underwater sculptures combine over 420 square meters to create a living reef structure that promotes coral and wildlife in a formerly-barren stretch of sea. Swimming from sculpture to sculpture feels like exploring some secret, lost world completely unlike anything else you’d expect from a typical beach vacation.
The Museum of Bad Art, Boston
The sarcasm-wielding, irony-loving teens in your group will love a tour through “the world’s only museum dedicated to the collection, preservation, exhibition and celebration of bad art in all its forms.” Pose for a new prof-pic in front of one of several awkward portraits or stroll through the “Unseen Forces” collection for artwork depicting deeply confusing scenarios (an orange cat eating the world?) and artistic license gone awry.
The Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel, Rome
The Vatican is one of those tourist hotspots that actually lives up to the hype and deserves a slot on your travel bucket list. Make the trip during the offseason to avoid amusement park-level crowds (though still expect a decent amount of sightseers) and reserve a guided tour through the grounds. Winding staircases and a head-spinning number of rooms, twists and turns are all packed with the spectacular art, tapestries and historic trinkets that defined the Renaissance. End your tour at the pièce de résistance, the Sistine Chapel, where you’ll spend several awe-struck moments craning your neck to view one of the most incredible pieces of artwork history has ever seen. Even the hardest-to-impress teens will find something to enjoy.
Torture Museum, Amsterdam
Much like true-crime documentaries and watching your aunt Karen have one-too-many at the family Christmas party, the darker side of European history is one of those fascinating, can’t-look-away subjects that is sure to get your kid to put their phone down, if only for a few minutes. Enter the Torture Museum, a tiny hole in the wall dedicated to the “instruments of punishment” that ran amuck in medieval times, and take in a creepy, but tastefully done, tribute to this painful portion of human history.
Not that you needed an excuse to spend the day eating French fries, but here you have it: A visit to the father-son operated Frietmuseum gives guests an in-depth look at the history of this beloved fried food that’s become a Belgian national specialty. Discover the origin of the potato and look at a collection of ancient potato cutters before sitting down to sample some, you guessed it, French fries, served in a paper cone with a variety of dips.
Computer History Museum, Mountain View, CA
Tech lovers will geek out over the interactive and informative exhibits at the Computer History Museum. Try your hand at coding, take a ride in a self-driving car and check out an exhibit that dives into the 2,000-year history of computing that takes visitors from the first abacus all the way to the most high-tech smart phones.
Written by Ashley Sepanski